Patricia Lynn Frazier, 86, died July 10 at the Cedars care facility in McPherson. Pat was a friend of many, a talented businesswoman, loyal member of the St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Parish, and an example of both warmth and grit to her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. She shared most of her life’s adventures with her husband, Louie, whom she was married to for 64 years before his death in 2016. One of her favorite sayings conveyed the wisdom of humility – “Pride Goeth Before a Fall.”
She was born Patricia Kingsbury in 1933, the first child in a family with pioneer heritage in Dickinson County, Kansas. She grew up on the farm near Carlton that her great grandparents had homesteaded in 1870, and drove grain trucks to the elevators in Elmo and Carlton well before she was old enough to apply for a driver’s license. Her early years coincided with the depths of the Great Depression. When her sister Joan died while still a toddler, the family couldn’t afford a burial plot so Joan was buried in a spot donated by relatives in a nearby town.
Besides farming, her father also was a pianist who passed along his love of music to her. She started on piano and blossomed into a saxophone player who graced the band at Kansas State University for two years. She continued with piano for many years, teaching piano lessons in McPherson, and introducing music to her children via the piano, though all three fled the piano bench as soon as they were old enough to wriggle away to other instruments.
She entered K-State the same month she turned 17, and earned her teacher’s certificate in 22 months. In 1952, as she turned 19, she got her first teacher’s contract earning $300 a month (and $2 for every county and state teacher’s meeting she attended). She taught school in a one-room schoolhouse in Carlton, where she claimed that her most ornery student was her little brother, Steve. Then she was promoted to principal of a two-room school in Hope.
As she began her teaching career, she married her boyfriend Louie, whom she had met while in high school at Chapman. Louie worked for the railroad, then later went to work for the Safeway grocery chain. Safeway sent the young couple to Arkansas City, Emporia and Anthony before they landed in McPherson in 1959, where they moved into a home in the then-new Eastmoor Addition.
In McPherson, Pat began her 60-year membership in St. Joseph’s parish, including many years involvement with the Altar Society. She also was a member of PEO, a Cub Scout den mother, and a diligent and fearsome competitor in many bridge clubs. Weekends were split between time at her parents’ farm – she helped with wheat harvest well into the 1980’s – or on hobbies that included golf, boating, and enjoying RV life at the lake.
Pat was a substitute teacher in McPherson in the early 1960’s, and in the mid-1960’s began her financial services career with a job at Farmers Alliance Insurance. She loved the challenge at Farmers Alliance, but was frustrated by the sense that her work was not as highly valued as the work of men doing the same job. At one point, when she believed she was being underpaid relative to her male peers, she went to her manager to ask for equal pay. Instead, she was told, “We don’t need to pay women the same as men because wives have husbands to support them and their family.” She was livid, and went home to tell her children, who benefited from that early lesson in workplace equity. On another occasion, she ranked first in a class to learn underwriting skills, but as the only woman in the class she was denied a plaque commemorating completion of the course. When she complained, she was given a Xerox copy of the plaque that the men had received, with her name scratched in by hand.
Later, she helped open the local branch of Columbia Savings & Loan, an Emporia-based S&L, and remained branch manager and Vice President for several years. She also worked for a local insurance agency, before temporarily retiring. She unretired when Louie expanded his paint and home furnishings store on North Main Street, Frazier Interiors, and she remained Louie’s business partner and decorating specialist until they sold the store a decade ago.
Louie and Pat instilled a love of adventure and historic curiosity in their children. They traveled by car to destinations like Florida, New Orleans, Colorado, Texas and Yellowstone Park — long summer vacations that included visits to relatives, historic sites and natural landmarks. A feature of trips with Pat was her regular instructions to Louie to pull over and read any historic landmark sign that popped up along the roadside, just to make sure her kids learned a tiny bit of history as they roamed (In later years, she denied responsibility for imprinting the story on her children that Coronado himself built the picnic castle atop Coronado Heights). She helped keep expenses down by lugging along a large electric skillet to cook fried Spam sandwiches in the motel room at night. Pat and Louie continued to travel into their late 70’s, visiting furniture shows, the son who started a new life in Washington DC, and the other son who lured them abroad, to his temporary homes in Mexico City and London.
In 2009, Pat fought and won a harrowing, life-threatening battle against a cerebral aneurysm, resulting in emergency surgery and months in recovery. Despite doubts by doctors she would survive, she emerged strong, witty, loving and energetic, prepared for a final decade of life enjoying her friends, many hands of bridge, and a growing family. After years of gentle persuasion, she also helped Louie convert to Catholicism in the final years of his life, which gave them both great joy as he helped contribute to the St. Joseph’s community.
She slowed down moderately after Louie’s death in 2016, but continued to enjoy life until her health took a sharp turn for the worse in the past several weeks as her Alzheimer’s quickly advanced. In the final days of her life, one topic of conversation that seemed to bring her joy was tales of wheat harvests past and present, the impact of weather forecasts on crop yields, and the challenges of hustling a cold six-pack of Coors out to the combine before it would grow warm in the late June heat.
She is survived by three children: Greg Frazier, Washington, D.C.; Steve Frazier and daughter-in-law Elizabeth Leech, Mercer Island, Washington; and Marcia Frazier-Boos, Wichita. She is also survived by four grandchildren: Jonathan Frazier, Seattle; Dustin Frazier, Wichita; Rosalie Frazier, New York City; and Ceceilia Frazier, of Washington D.C. In recent years, she welcomed into the family Emily Frazier, grandson Jonathan’s wife; and Caitlin Walker, Dustin’s partner and mother of two great granddaughters, Bradleigh and Adelynn Frazier.
She was preceded in death by her parents, William and Cecilia Lorson Kingsbury; her husband, Louie, and by all three of her siblings: Carolyn Susan Huffman, Steve Kingsbury, and Joan Kingsbury.
Graveside services will be held at McPherson Cemetery Tuesday July 14 at 10 am. with Fr. Ben Shockey officiating. The family asks that attendees wear masks and practice social distancing at the cemetery. A celebration of life will be scheduled in the future, when public safety conditions permit larger gatherings. Memorials are suggested to the Kingsbury Foundation or St. Joseph’s Catholic Church and they can be sent in care of the Glidden – Ediger Funeral Home; 222 West Euclid Street; McPherson, Kansas 67460